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Elliot Hospital's new CEO ready for his next challenge

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 02. 2014 8:52PM


MANCHESTER — An executive who leads a Wisconsin hospital nearly twice the size of Elliot Hospital was named the new chief executive officer of Elliot Health System on Monday.

Jim Woodward, president and chief executive of Meriter Health Services of Madison, Wisc., will join Elliot early next month, hospital officials announced. He takes over for Douglas Dean, who plans to retire later this month from the job he held for 16 years at Elliot.

Woodward said he took the Elliot job after the 448-bed Meriter hospital formed an affiliation with Unity Point Health, one of the largest health care systems in the country. The affiliation made him a senior vice president in charge of Wisconsin hospitals for United Point, but Woodward said it took him away from what he enjoyed most — working with hospital physicians and coming up with strategies for the hospital’s future.

Meriter, the fifth-largest hospital in Wisconsin, had operating revenues of $800 million, compared to $356 million in 2012 for Elliot, which has 296 beds in its Manchester hospital.

Bigger isn’t necessarily better, Woodward said in a telephone interview Monday.

“What you look for is organizations that are poised and have all the puzzle pieces in place to do the right thing,” he said.

He praised Elliot’s electronic medical records system and its large physician network.

Woodward wasn’t on hand for the announcement in Manchester. He was in Madison, where Meriter was announcing his departure.

The announcement was made by Dianne Mercier, chairman of the Elliot board and the search committee.

“Jim has all the skills and experience that you would hope a CEO would bring to you with 30 years in the business,” Mercier said. She said Woodward has no preconceived ideas of how the hospital should be run.

“Our agenda to him is, ‘Jim you need to come here and work with us very closely in developing our strategic plan,’” Mercier said. Woodward also held executive positions at hospitals in Dover, Del., and Winchester, Va.

Mercier said Dean brought the hospital far, with urgent care clinics in Londonderry and Manchester, an extensive physician network and a hospital foundation.

Mercier said 93 people applied for Dean’s job. The search committee, which she headed, interviewed six. She said the board is currently in negotiation with Woodward over his salary.

Dean holds the title of both president and CEO at Elliot Health System; Woodward joins the organization as CEO.

Rick Phelps is president of Elliot Hospital and chief operating officer of Elliot Health System.

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